In March 2016, the government published Locally-led garden villages, towns and cities a prospectus inviting expressions of interest from local authorities wanting to create new communities based on garden city principles.
This, rather vaguely suggested:
|We do not consider that there is a single template for a garden village, town or city. It will be important for the new community to establish a clear and distinct sense of identity. We want to see local areas adopt innovative approaches and solutions to creating great places, rather than following a set of rules.
Equally, we are clear that this prospectus is not looking to support places which merely use ‘garden’ as a convenient label. Rather, we will support local areas that embed key garden city principles to develop communities that stand out from the ordinary. We do not want to impose a set of development principles on local areas, and will support local areas in developing their own vision for their communities. But, we will want to see evidence of attractive, well-designed places with local support.
It went on to set out the following criteria:
|...we are defining garden villages, to include proposals that are not eligible under our existing offer, which is restricted to new garden towns and cities of over 10,000 homes. Therefore, to be eligible under this section of the prospectus, proposals must be for a new settlement of 1,500 – 10,000 homes.
The garden village must be a new discrete settlement, and not an extension of an existing town or village. This does not exclude proposals where there are already a few existing homes.
 New developments
In January 2017, the government announced the development of the 14 garden villages across England, with the potential to deliver more than 48,000 new homes. The villages are an expansion of the government’s existing ‘garden town’ programme announced in December 2015.
Ranging in size from 1,500 to 10,000 homes, the new garden villages will have access to a £6 million fund over the next two years to support their delivery and unlock the full capacity of the sites.The villages are described as ‘distinct new places with their own community facilities, rather than extensions to existing urban areas’.
The villages include a 600-acre former airfield near Corby, Northampton, which will be developed to provide more than 1,000 homes, a village green, shops and community hall.
Dunton Hills, near Brentwood, Essex, will provide at least 2,500 homes, as well as new Gypsy and Traveller pitches.
West Carclaze, Cornwall, is proposed as an ‘ecovillage’, with 1,500 new energy efficient homes, a solar farm, bicycle trails, and a new primary school. However, local councillors have expressed concerns over the lack of affordable housing provision and the irreparable alteration to the character of the local area.
The 14 sites identified are:
- Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon.
- Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire.
- Deenethorpe in East Northants.
- Culm in Mid Devon.
- Welborne near Fareham in Hampshire.
- West Carclaze in Cornwall.
- Dunton Hills near Brentwood, Essex.
- Spitalgate Heath in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire.
- Halsnead in Knowsley, Merseyside.
- Longcross in Runnymede and Surrey Heath.
- Bailrigg in Lancaster.
- Infinity Garden Village in South Derbyshire and Derby City area.
- St Cuthberts near Carlisle City, Cumbria.
- North Cheshire in Cheshire East.
In addition, the government has also announced support for three new garden towns in Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow & Gilston, with a further £1.4 million of funding.
Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said: “Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need. New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies. These places combined could provide almost 200,000 homes.”
Due to the high level of interest, the government has made an additional £1 million available for other garden village proposals, and may run a further call for expressions of interest in 2017.
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